One goal of tai chi—relax

If you find yourself complaining about a pain or discomfort, it’s your body talking to you. Aggravating as it is, you are probably ready to do something about it. Begin with relaxing. Find the point and change it.

Perhaps most of us don’t know we’re not relaxed. We learn to function with higher levels of stress as life goes along. We forget how as children our bodies were much calmer. We don’t appreciate how our bodies store and carry the stress of living in these times, which is more than physical, but emotional, mental, energetic, even spiritual.

Tai chi offers us a chance to aim our efforts when we become aware of this. A lot of it is discovery and observation; quiet observation of what is going on in your body while you are doing the moves learned in tai chi practice.

We don’t know how stressed we are. We know something is not right and we may assume it is stress. But where do we go from there? Where do we focus our attention. My teachers wisely have told me, “Just do the moves,” or “Do form,” or “Quiet the mind.” “Relax.”

“How do you do that?” you might ask. Just do the moves. They will teach you. At some point something in the body will give way, and let go and relax. If you are being mindful and observant you will recognize what is happening and you will experience in your mind, in the brain, such a release—a pleasurable release of tension.

The next thing you could do is hold the image in your mind’s eye of that experience of relaxing that part of your body. When you lie down at night to rest, bring it up as you fall asleep and let it internalize. With enough practice—it is always an ongoing effort—you should realize more and more tension release as you practice the moves. This has been my experience.

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